Feasibility and Acceptability of a Nutrition Intervention to Promote Consumption of Pulse-Based Food Products in Childcare Centres in Saskatchewan
Canada is one of the largest producer of pulses worldwide, but despite their nutritional benefits, pulses are not widely consumed by the Canadian population, including children aged three to five. Establishing healthy eating habits in young children can improve consumption of beneficial foods, which can result in good eating habits that continue into adulthood. The study objective was to evaluate the acceptability and feasibility of a pilot pulse-based nutrition education curriculum entitled “Pulse Discovery Tool Kit” (PDTK) among children aged two to five. The kit is designed to instill healthy eating habits and promote pulse consumption within childcare centres. The pilot study was conducted in two childcare centres in Saskatoon over a three-month period. The pilot intervention included weekly lesson plans, a food service guide, sensory evaluation sessions and a parent's newsletter. Qualitative and quantitative data were captured on the feasibility and acceptability of the PDTK through sensory evaluations, lesson plan evaluations, semi-structured interviews with teachers, interviews with the cooks, individual plate waste measurements, and socio demographic questionnaires for parents. Sensory analysis revealed that a number of (e.g. 23 out of 32) of the children liked two of the pulse recipes, refried bean wraps and lentil smoothies giving them a “Yummy” rating of 92% and 72% respectively. Forty-four percent liked the green split pea spread when they first tried it, and 56% liked it during a repeated sensory session. An evaluation of both lesson plans and the teachers' interviews indicated that most of the lesson plan activities were based on sound nutritional concepts and could be implemented into the existing curriculum. A few lesson plan activities could be modified by breaking them into smaller components which would increase the overall acceptability of the PDTK. Cooks from both centres also believed that it was feasible to incorporate recipes from the PDTK into their regular cycle menus and expressed no barriers to cooking and serving pulses in their facilities. The parents’ sociodemographic questionnaire (n=15) also revealed that at least 40% of the children in the study population consumed pulses three or more times per month. A nutrient comparison between pulse-based recipes and the intervention recipes revealed lower amounts of kilocalories and sodium among the intervention recipes. However, participants consumed significantly more proportions of their control recipes in comparison to the intervention recipes from baseline to final exposure. Overall, the evaluation of the Pulse Discovery Tool Kit (PDTK) showed that it was both acceptable and feasible to implement this model into child care centres to improve pulse consumption in the menu for children aged three to five years.
Nutrition education, Pulses, Preschoolers
Master of Science (M.Sc.)
Pharmacy and Nutrition